downtime on construction sites

To prevent potentially massive time and money overruns, construction companies must minimise downtime. Time when your machines and team are not working is unproductive and costly.

That said, not all downtime can – or even should – be avoided. This article reviews ways to make downtime on construction sites more productive. Of course, factors like the pandemic lockdowns and South Africa’s unpredictable load-shedding can derail the best-laid plans.

1. Plan scheduled downtime

The best way to prevent unplanned downtime is to properly plan scheduled downtime. Scheduling downtime into your operations reduces the risk of unplanned downtime, which is more costly and disruptive.

To prevent unplanned downtime, invest in reliable machinery and put systems in place to keep machines properly maintained during scheduled downtime.

2. Make nightly downtime productive

For productive construction companies, scheduled downtime often happens at night. It’s too dark to work and is expensive to pay workers.

Use a skeleton crew to carry out tasks that can be done during the hours of darkness.

3. Incorporate seasonal downtime into your schedule

Often, downtime is seasonal and can last for weeks, even months. Seasonal downtime is costly if you’re not ready for it. If you are, it can be productive time.

Minimise losses during lengthy seasonal downtimes by:

  • leasing equipment by machine hours – not calendar days
  • being open to work located in areas with different seasonal downtime
  • postponing scheduled training, certifications and costly office tasks.

4. Consolidate data

Tackle potentially stressful admin by consolidating multiple spreadsheets of data and various reports and dashboards into one. Use downtime to tackle admin tasks like this – and prepare for audit checks. It will spare you headaches in the future.

5. Study best practices

Use downtime to study the best practices in your area of expertise. Select a couple of topics and update your knowledge on what current best practices are.

Make a realistic comparison with how your business operates. You’ll reap the benefit with a new outlook on the construction environment.

6. Hone your skills

Downtime is the perfect time to look at areas of your job that you’d like to improve. Identify the skills your job requires and find any weaknesses.

Use downtime to proactively improve skills that will help you do a better job when you’re back on the construction site. 

7. Review your environmental impact

Take time to review the environmental impact of your construction business. Establish what’s not working and find where there are opportunities to have a positive impact.

Share ideas with colleagues on how to improve processes and sustainable ways of working.

8. Network online

Use downtime to connect with professionals and build your network. Start by attending webinars and connect with other attendees. Meet virtually to discuss the industry – its current state and future – with other professionals.

9. Manage construction site equipment

Managing your construction site equipment will save time and money – and increase your chance of winning business in the future. Tasks that can be done during downtime include:

  • moving equipment from one location to another
  • having materials shipped
  • checking the condition of other equipment
  • taking care of transportation.

10. Inspect, maintain and prepare

The past year has shown how unplanned downtime can occur when you least expect it. Pandemics aside, it can happen due to many factors, such as building regulations and weather-related delays. When downtime occurs, make the most of it by:

  • getting the necessary construction equipment and tools in place for when work resumes
  • undertaking maintenance and inspection orders
  • ensuring construction vehicles are in good working condition
  • getting on top of paperwork and supplier management to minimise further disruption.

KH Plant

Maintaining your equipment and machinery is one of the most important ways of making downtime on construction sites more productive. At KH Plant, we specialise in restoring Caterpillar 140G, 140H and 140K motor graders and components to as-new condition – so you can get the benefits of a new motor grader at a fraction of the cost of a new machine.

Contact us for more information or to discuss your needs.

Contact us for more information